Monday, February 14, 2011
The Glass is 3/8 Full...
As obvious as it is for us to realize that we have so much to be thankful for and optimistic about, it is also just as easy (if not easier) for us to focus on what we don’t have, what we don’t like and what could go wrong. I, for one, have the philosophy that if you expect the worst, you can only be pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than anticipated.
For example, many moons ago, my now husband and I were dating long-distance for a year. One winter Friday evening, he called to say he was leaving work to head home. His commute was approximately an hour so when a few hours went by without hearing from him, I naturally panicked. I called him back to back for at least an hour or two until he finally called me to explain that he had gotten a flat and had been out in the snow trying to change the tire. Being the Girlfriend of Gloom (and now Wife of Worry) that I am, I assumed he was dead in a ditch (or perhaps cheating on me which would have ultimately led to him being dead in a ditch anyways). Hearing his voice after what seemed like an eternity was so reassuring. Even more traumatic was the night of my husband’s heart attack three and a half years ago. Long story short, after a botched catheterization, he was rushed into open heart surgery for fear of an aortic rupture. As you can imagine, that was the longest four or five hours of my life. Time felt literally frozen. It was the middle of the night and I was exhausted but it was no time to sleep. Those doctors had my husband’s life in their hands. Being a “Negative Nelly,” each time a doctor walked past the waiting room, I expected them to slowly come in (like you see in the movies) with their head hanging low as they pull off their surgical mask or cap to deliver the bad news. “There was nothing we could do” or “it was too late – we tried everything we could.” Thankfully, the doctor entered the room to tell me how the surgery went (successfully, if you didn’t already know) and to let me know when I could go see my husband in the cardiac ICU. I could have kissed the surgeon for washing away my worst fears in that instant. In both cases, knowing my hubby was safe, in one piece, ALIVE was like being zapped with a defibrillator myself – my lifeless heart was beating once again!
It’s not healthy to live that way – always presuming anything out of the ordinary is the result of something horrible or tragic happening. I am guilty of this to the hundredth degree. In fact, I might be somewhat of a hypochondriac. The second I experience a weird cramp in my leg or a headache with a side of dizziness, I am on my phone’s “WebMD” app to run a symptom checker to see whether I have a migraine or an aneurysm. This is an especially fun game I play with myself right before bed. As you can imagine, I sleep real well after discovering that I potentially have a life-threatening illness (or the common cold – it’s a tossup really). My twisted mind runs all night, partly because I am making a list of things I need to do before I croak and also so that I can cheat the system and avoid passing away in my sleep. You can’t die in your sleep if you don’t sleep, right!? Demented, I KNOW! Yet, here I am, awake, alive and kickin’ which leads me to an article I recently read.
The piece was on changing our perspective from negative to positive. Instead of moaning and groaning about the lousy night’s sleep we got, why not raise and praise that we are living to see another day! There are books about the power of positive thinking and the more I think about it, the more positive I am that this is effective. It feels so good to see things through eyes of graciousness and calmness versus the high blood pressure inducing approach of angst and anger.
Yes, it is easy to be overcome with road rage when you are stuck driving behind the world’s slowest driver -who apparently has no where important to be and is out for a rush-hour cruise – however, it is just as easy to crank up the radio, sing like no one is watching and enjoy the extra few minutes you get to jam to your favorite song! Besides, if you’re in that much of a hurry to get to where you are going, perhaps you should’ve left earlier. (Note to self: practice what you preach, Jessica!) There is no sense in getting worked up about things we have no control over. I am learning this lesson more and more.
This is not to say that if one of my daughter’s were ailing that I would brush it off because of my newfound optimism. I will continue to use any “mother’s intuition” I might have as needed; however, I will do my utmost to abandon my first instinct which is to fear or dread (until I have to).
I saw a movie last night where the husband and wife made it a habit of telling each other the things they loved most about their partner whenever they departed from one another. I thought this was a quite beautiful thing. I have always felt it was important to tell the ones you love how you feel about them because time and unforeseen occurrences can befall us all and it may have been the last thing we said to that person. Now I see that I can take it to the next level – if I follow the idea from the movie – I can tell the person not only how I feel but why I feel that way! I may be overly optimistic but I’d like to think that could really make someone’s day including your own. Does it not feel just as good to give a compliment as it does to receive one?! I try to make it a point to “show and tell” my love to my family and friends every day. I love them and will tell them so all 365 days (or 366 on leap years) of the year without rhyme or reason.
Looking at everything from a more affirmative light is still a work in progress. My hypothetical glass may not be quite half full just yet but it’s certainly not half empty...